Today's topic is very personal to me as I guess I have tried to strive to use my social media presence and intertwine it with my mission here on earth. I for one am an advocate of social media being used for mission and I will explain why later, but first I wanted to just define what I mean by the word mission:
Mission is following Christ's calling on our lives to share the gospel with a lost world.
Now I realise that everyone has their own personal mission, the group of people that they are specifically called to reach out to or a particular activity through which they reach out, but everyone who is a Christian is called and has a mission, no exceptions. The Great Commission to go and make disciples is to all of us.
So how can we use social media to achieve that? In one sentence - by living our Christian life online in the same way that we would live it offline. A massive part of being a Christian is having integrity - we are honest and vulnerable and we share our failings but we also try to live a life of purity in the image of Jesus. So when we use social media it should be a true reflection of ours lives in Christ, not a mask of what we want people to see. I love this verse below and it has really challenged me about the things that I post on facebook and twitter:
Wherever you post something online it is going to be seen by both Christians and Non-Christians, so it is a really easy, but also dangerous, way to show them how your life has changed by having Jesus in it. You can be a witness by the words you post as you have a captive audience of friends and followers who will be reading it. So we need to be really careful, but also truthful, about what we post. We need to enter into the mindset that our whole lives, both on and offline, are an act of worship and our mission field. We may only have 50 friends on facebook (I of course have WAYYY more than that because I am the friend every wants on facebook....), but they also have 50 friends, and they have 50 friends. Our sphere of influence is potentially massive so we need to use this for the power of the gospel.
So here are a few practical ideas that I have found useful for how we can use social media for mission:
- Quoting bible verses in every post will not attract non-Christians! It is awesome to be able to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ and to put up verses that have been really influential to you, but if every post you put is a quote from scripture you will bore and turn away your friends or followers who aren't Christians. Your life is an amazing testimony to how amazing our God is and if you show this through putting up real and honest posts then the gospel will shine through it. Don't try too hard and definitely don't preach online!!! This is not the right place for that....
- Use your online life to enhance your offline life. I have said before about how powerful social media can be for connecting people and building relationships, so use it as a stepping stone to developing relationships in your mission field. Set up events and invite people, comment on your friends posts (being a good friend is about listening too and people really value comments, likes and re-tweets) and invite people to real life meet ups. Sometimes social media can just break the ice and make it easier to invite people. And who knows where that first step might take you...
- Use it to find out about projects and other people who share your passion for your mission field. Again, the internet and social media especially bring a world of possibilities closer to you. I have had a great time finding out about projects happening in Doncaster that I never knew existed (a food bank is being set up in my town that I probably wouldn't have known about if it wasn't for twitter!). So connect with those who share your passions (but don't become too much of an online stalker) and find our about new passions.
- Use it to promote your mission and make connections in your mission field. Social media gives you a backdoor into many organisations that would otherwise be shut. Now you can tweet to your local council, MP's, celebrities and post items to business pages on facebook when it would have been really difficult to get through to them on the phone. And most people/companies/organisations will sit up and listen because social media is so public that they cannot afford to have any bad press around it. So use this to your advantage - tweet your council to champion their fostering service, lobby your MP online about human trafficking, post on the businesses facebook page to see if they can donate to the local food bank. Social media is this generations way of communicating so get savy and use it to your advantage.
- Show Jesus' love through it. I think the question "What would Jesus do?" had kind of died down in popularity in the last 10 years, but it is a valid question really. How would Jesus have used social media? He probably would have tried to find the person who felt left out or lonely and made them feel loved, He probably would have connected and supported the groups that look after the homeless, the ill, the desperate and re-tweeted their posts to His followers, He probably would have had a good laugh with His closest mates and shared a few in-jokes and selfies, and He probably would have set up a "Sermon on the Mount" event page and tried to invite the whole world to come along! Whatever you think Jesus might have made of social media, he would have use it for love because that was who He was. So lets try to do the same and perhaps we might be able to use the power of social media to spread His message of good news.